This study had two goals. The first was to assess the magnitude and consistency of the relationship between child sexual abuse (CSA) and eating disorders (ED). The second was to examine methodological factors contributing to the heterogeneity of this relationship.
Meta-analysis was used to examine both questions. Fifty-three studies were included in the analysis.
A small, significant positive relationship between CSA and ED emerged. The relationship was marked by heterogeneity. Effect sizes were largest when CSA was the grouping variable, the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI) or the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT) was used as the measure of eating disorders, and nonclinical groups were compared with clinical samples.
Models of CSA and ED need to more clearly specify what aspects of ED (e.g., body image or binge eating) are most influenced by which types of CSA. These specific relationships then need to be examined empirically. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 31: 136–150, 2002; DOI 10.1002/eat.10008